Proclaiming freedom: free to believe
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,” states Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet this right is denied to many across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In response, SAT-7 supports minority Christians facing a lack of freedom and fellowship, creates space for others seeking truth, and seeks to open conversations about freedom of belief.
“Thank you for answering my questions. Please don’t share my messages on live programs, as it is very dangerous for me,” says Shahrad*, a SAT-7 viewer in Afghanistan who asked about Jesus. It is Shahrad’s right to seek answers, and freely to make his own decisions about faith and belief. But in Afghanistan, and in other Middle East countries where these rights are not protected in practice, seekers like Shahrad are often not free to struggle towards truth publicly – or even openly in their own homes.
In these contexts, those who become Christians risk a range of consequences, from harassment by the authorities to ostracism or violence from their family or community. In Iran and Turkey, where religious identity and national identity are closely interlinked, new Christians can be regarded as disloyal to the nation or a risk to national security. Meanwhile, even members of Christian denominations, and other religious minorities, with long histories in the region can face government restrictions, discrimination, and hostility within society.
Standing in the gap
Through SAT-7’s unique position as a media ministry with the potential to reach millions of people across the MENA, our programs can stand in the gaps created by the lack of freedom of belief. Our teaching, and prayer, and televised church service programs offer encouragement and discipleship to Christians who may have no church to attend, no safe way to find fellowship, and no Christian materials.
Meanwhile, live programs and conversations with Audience Relations staff give isolated believers an invaluable opportunity to engage as Christians, as well as a safe space for seekers to explore the Christian faith and express themselves.
Foundations for the future
As well as supporting believers and seekers today, SAT-7 programs seek to create understanding and awareness that can help form the foundations for a better tomorrow. “It is SAT-7’s view that when everyone can access their right to freedom of thought, conscience, and belief, this not only brings freedom for Christian minorities – it benefits everyone by strengthening societies as a whole,” says George Makeen, SAT-7 Arabic Channels Programming Director.
Through discussion programs such as SAT-7 PARS’ Insiders and SAT-7 ARABIC’s Enlighten Us, and innovative dramas including The Wall, SAT-7 helps break taboos and open conversations about the right to choose and live one’s faith. On SAT-7 PARS, which broadcasts in Iran, educational videos also directly inform viewers about their rights.
In Lebanon, where there is greater freedom of expression, SAT-7 ACADEMY’s children’s rights game show Puzzle invites children of different cultural and religious backgrounds to play and learn together. The experiences they gain help them reject preconceived judgments and stereotypes of others – and the show offers these lessons to viewers at the same time.
*Names have been changed